Friday, October 21, 2011

Kung Powerful Tempeh

I'm a big fan simple one-bowl meals. They're often the easiest to make, and there's something so comforting about a beautiful bowl of everything-I-need resting in my hand. When I'm cooking for a party, I'll usually spend most of the day making several dishes, so everyone can mix and match the way they like. But for regular evenings at home, more often than not we'll go with easier one-bowl choices, which also happen to be our favorites.

I'm also a big fan of Kung Pao dishes, but I always find them a little heavy on the peanuts, and lacking in really good vegetables. I'm not all that concerned with the authenticity of traditional dishes. So when I modify these recipes, I want them to taste amazing, and I want them to be super-nutritious. The version that follows is exactly what I wanted, and it was a huge hit here last night. It has everything I think a good Kung Pao should have, and nothing I don't, like those evil little red peppers that most people push to the side of their plate. And, it was easy to make, which to me is some powerful goodness.

Kung Powerful Tempeh

The first thing to do is marinate the tempeh. I used one package, cut into small cubes. If you aren't familiar with tempeh, don't be intimidated by it. Because it's made from soy, be sure to get a good organic tempeh. It has to be cooked, so some recipes will call for a pre-steaming, or cooking it in the oven. No need for either of those here. Just mix up the marinade, toss in the tempeh cubes, and let them soak until it's time to use them - at least 30 minutes, but longer is more than OK. You could also use tofu if you prefer.

Tempeh Marinade

2 T toasted sesame oil
1 T hot pepper sesame oil
3 T tamari
3 T maple syrup
3 T grated fresh ginger
1 large, or 3 small cloves garlic - chopped
1 T ume plum vinegar (or lemon juice)

While the tempeh marinates, start a batch of rice. I like brown basmati for most things.
Next, chop all your vegetables. I used mostly green veggies, with some carrots for a hit or orange.
This is what makes it so Kung-Powerful!

bok choy or cabbage
green onion

You'll also need:
1/2 cup to 1 cup chopped, unsalted peanuts and/or cashews
1 tsp or more crushed red chile flakes
another splash hot pepper oil (optional)
coconut oil for cooking

When the rice is done, heat up a large skillet or wok, with a 1-2 T of coconut oil, on medium (or slightly higher) heat.
Throw in the nuts and red chile flakes, and let them toast in the oil for a minute or two.
Add vegetables in the order listed above, cooking for about 1 minute between each addition.
Add the tempeh and marinade, and a little more pepper oil if desired.

Gently mix everything together, and add a little water if it seems necessary. When it's bubbling hot, cover and turn off the heat, so the tempeh and crisper veggies can steam for about 10 minutes. 

Serve with rice, and top with extra nuts, chile flakes, or pepper oil to taste.
I seriously had delicious dreams about this all night... 
Must make more... very soon.